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The last bangers are exploding. The crackle of fireworks is dissipating into the darkness.  We head inside braced in the knowledge that the commercial world is gearing up to unleash the full force of their festive advertising upon us.

We are promised that on spending our hard earned money on particular brands of clothing/food/wine/gifts we will reach nirvana, that unparalleled place: the best Christmas ever.

Now I'm as Christmassy as the next person but the thought of all that rampant consumerism, of all the plastic and rubbish destined for landfill and the pressure to have the-best-time-of-my-whole-life-and-that-of-my-friends-and-family-ever and is giving me the shivers.

So as the Oxford Street lights power up and John Lewis release their Christmas advert (since when was that a thing?) I’d like to offer a distraction from it all and provide an RSA style antidote our the impending future...

Six things you can discover this November: 

  • Empathy.  In this absolutely delightful RSA Short by Dr Brene Brown, ask yourself how you can really be there for another person.  Be reminded that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to get in touch with our own fragilities. 

  • ProvocationListen to Dr Debra Kidd, a teacher, arguing that education has become fixated on conformity and compliance at the expense of creativity.  Or consider whether you’d like to have greater control over the built environment around you ,with architect Sarah Wigglesworth who explores the cultural challenges that architecture can and should be addressing. 

  • Inspiration.  Take a look at what the RSA and schools are doing together in the West Midlands to inspire the next generation of young people. Or how about the work of the Great Recovery team who advocate the need to shift towards more 'circular systems' and good design thinking to achieve this (no landfill there). 

  • The chance to unlock someone's creativity.  Ok, so this one takes a small amount of cash via Kickstarter.  But if everyone chips in we’ll be there in no time.  You could:   

  • Support creativity and grow environmentally sustainable enterprises; the Fable & Base studio creates ethically sourced and environmentally sustainable, beautiful handmade textiles   

  • Unlock creativity to enable a more environmentally sustainable economy and RSA Fellow Florence Wilkinson's venture aims to connect people with the nature around them and build up data on bird conservation with Warblr an app that recognises birds from their song   

  • Contribute to educational change that meets everyone’s developmental needs and inspires a lifelong love of learning. This collaboration between Fellows aims to increase access to science education that students can direct and own with Lab_31 Ghana

  • Fellowship.  Not a Fellow?  Want to find out about joining this most excellent group of people?  You can nominate yourself.  It this one also costs but weigh it up and perhaps give it a try if you think it fits.  Each region has a Fellowship Manager organising events, connecting you to other like-minded people inspiring each other.  It's good. 

  • A new outlook. Want to see what a truly open, collaborative and flexible working culture looks like?  This RSA Animate from Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft asks how can we get people more engaged, more productive, and happier at work?  It is for most of us, where we spend a good portion of our lives (and you get wonder what a ‘Chief Envisioning Officer’ does.) 

So relax, there’s plenty of time for saccharin soaked spending and sprouts yet.


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